Snapshots in Time

By John Fry

1917: LENIN RECOMMENDS SKIING. “Do you ski? Do it without fail! Learn how and set off for the mountains – you must. In the mountains winter is wonderful! It’s sheer delight.” Advice from Vladimir Lenin to his mistress, French socialist and feminist Inessa Armand, less than a year before the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd in 1917. – William D. Frank, Everyone to Skis! Northern Illinois University Press, 2013.

1928: WILDERNESS ADVENTURE. Our Assiniboine lodge in the Canadian Rockies was the first in North America to provide open above-timberline skiing such as only Europe could boast of at the time. In 1928 the Marquis Albizzi and I brought our first group of skiers to Assiniboine. We enjoyed 17 days of straight sunshine and snow that none of us has found anywhere in the world, before or since. -- Erling Strom, March 1957 SKI Magazine.

1935: HOW TO FALL. Owing to the tremendous number of broken legs, I feel it is time for someone to try to help, particularly for the benefit of beginners. In deep or heavy snow, never struggle. Go absolutely limp and, if possible, accentuate the nose dive. You seldom break your neck but you will bring your skis up clear. As soon as your head is in the snow, stiffen yourself, knees together. In deep or heavy snow, your speed is seldom sufficient for more than one somersault. . .In cases where you fall mixed up or awkwardly, there is no doubt a simple binding of the Bildstein type enormously increases your chances of escaping a twist or break. A properly adjusted ski will never come off.” -- W.F. Preedy, Commander, Royal Navy, Ski Notes and Queries, published by Ski Club of Great Britain. October 1935. 

1938: AS IF THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH REASONS TO HATE HITLERHitler was dismissive of the supposed joys of winter Alpine life, and in particular the attraction of skiing --- “What pleasure can there be in prolonging the horrible winter artificially by staying in the mountains.  If I had my way I'd forbid these sports, with all the accidents people have doing them." David Faber, p. 252, “Munich, 1938” published 2008 by Simon & Schuster.

1938: AS IF THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH REASONS TO HATE HITLER, Hitler was dismissive of the supposed joys of winter Alpine life, and in particular the attraction of skiing --- “What pleasure can there be in prolonging the horrible winter artificially by staying in the mountains.  If I had my way I'd forbid these sports, with all the accidents people have doing them." David Faber, p. 252, “Munich, 1938” published 2008 by Simon & Schuster.

1939: HOW TO STORE SKIS, BOOTS IN SUMMER. All too often, at the first sign of snow, one goes to the cellar or attic and finds that last year’s new skis are warped, and leather straps and boots have taken on a greenish color from mold. Good equipment is worthy of care. With skis, clean all wax from the running surface; gasoline will do the job in short order. To seal the skis, spread linseed oil on their running surface, then turn them upside down and leave them that way so the oil soaks into the wood. After four to six weeks, wipe off the excess oil. Apply floor wax to the top of the skis. Boots and leather binding straps should be greased and wrapped in paper. Also stuff paper into the boots to keep them in their original shape. – Empire State News, March 10, 1939.

1946: FIRST SNOWMAKING. Man-made snow, every bit as real as that which makes for a White Christmas, has been produced for the first time by Vincent J. Schaefer, scientist of the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, NY. Although the snow is created in a laboratory cold chamber, the technique will work just as well out-of-doors to make actual a snow cloud crystallize and shed snow when and where skiers want it. – SKI NEWS, November 15, 1946.

1946: WINTER WARFARE LESSONS OFFERED. Two Army-directed Winter Warfare Schools will operate this season -- one at Camp Carson, Colorado, and the other in the Garmisch area of Germany. Commanded by Colonel David R.Ruffner and Lt. Col. Jefferson J. Irvin -- both formerly with the 10th Mountain Division -- the training centers are dedicated to preserving and passing on the techniques and skills developed by the mountain troops in WWII, including elementary and cross-country skiing, use of cold weather equipment, cold weather hygiene and sanitation, skijoring behind “weasels”, and handling toboggans and snowshoes. -- December 15, 1946 SKI NEWS

1947: EUROPEAN SKIERS ASK FOR FOOD. The Austrian Ski Federation is appealing to ski addicts on this side of the Atlantic to send urgently needed food parcels through CARE. “As you know,” says Sepp Lanz, “Austrian skiers have done much to teach U.S. skiers, and I am sure that such an appeal will be heard by skiers with good hearts.” Packages can be ordered for delivery to designated friends or groups in certain European countries – and delivered quickly from stockpiles already in Europe. -- SKI NEWS (Jan. 15, 1947)

1947: BEWARE THAT LAST RUN. Minot Dole and his patrolmen across the country can tell you that a least 80 per cent of all ski accidents occur late in the afternoon when skiers are tired. It is of course impossible to close lifts at noon to prevent this, but smart skiers should keep it in mind when planning their runs in late afternoon. Dole believes that the all-day type of ticket on ski lifts is a poor system, inasmuch as some skiers like to get the most possible skiing for their money, and often that “last run” may be the one to result in a fracture or sprain. -- SKI NEWS (January 15, 1947)

1947: HOW TO MAKE YOUR SKI TEACHER HATE YOU. Ski instructors always put up a smiling front, but most of them admit that often it is necessary to stifle an urge to flatten a student with a ski pole. Hannes Schroll says he’s most annoyed “by women who giggle. They would do better if they would take their lessons in stride instead of thinking their mistakes were the funniest things in the world.” Aspen Ski School’s Percy Rideout’s pet peeve is people who say, “But so-and-so told me to do it this way.” Arnold Burch of Yosemite complains that when he tells students to lean forward and bend at the ankles, “they usually stoop over and bend at the waist.” Guy Normandin, chief instructor of the Canadian ski troops, is bothered by nonchalant or practical jokers who are always trying to make the class laugh. – Elizabeth Forbes, Ski News, March 15, 1947

1948: GO TO EUROPE, SKI CHEAP. A lure for Americans with the time and money to cross the Atlantic is the highly favorable position of the U.S. dollar in the world money marts. In Austria’s Vorarlberg region, one inn is quoting room and meals at $3.25 a day. -- December 15, 1948 SKI Magazine.

1948: WARREN MILLER SETS FRUGALITY RECORD. A new record in ski bum tenacity was set and is still being defended by cartoonist Warren Miller, author of Are My Skis on Straight? -- a volume of ski cartoons. One of those ski enthusiasts who manages to stretch a ski dollar until the Treasury Department squawks, Miller has been living in Sun Valley since the first of December on less than $100. – SKI NEWS, March 15, 1948.

1949: EXCESS OF SKIERS FORECAST. The National Forests recorded 2,724,511 skier visits in the winter of 1946-47, a 65 percent increase. (December 15, 1948 SKI Magazine.) The Forest Service believes that if the number of skiers continues to rise at the current rate, present facilities will reach a saturation point in that they will be overburdened in 1950-51. -- -- Elizabeth Forbes, Aspen, February 1, 1949 SKI Magazine.

1949: AMERICAN SCHOOL KIDS WOULD BENEFIT FROM WINTER VACATIONS. During his student days in Switzerland, Averell Harriman, who developed Sun Valley, was awakened to the need for winter sports and year-round vacation facilities. One-sixth of the nation’s school facilities go unused because of the practice of closing schools in summer. In the Swiss system of staggering school vacations in a three-year cycle, Bern, Basel and Zurich each takes a turn at early, middle and late closings. -- February 15, 1949 SKI Magazine.

1949: HOLLYWOOD INVADES ASPEN. The Gary Coopers of Hollywood have purchased 30 acres of land in Aspen, and plan to build in the springtime. – February 15, 1949 SKI Magazine.

1949: WHEN SKI INJURY WAS A FRACTURE OR SPRAIN. Of 4,428 injuries reported last season to the National Ski Patrol, 48 percent were sprains and 23 percent were fractures, according to Minot Dole. Of the fractures, 56 percent were of the ankle, 28 percent of the lower leg and other parts of the anatomy. -- February 1, 1949 SKI Magazine.  

1956: WEDELN IS HERE TO STAY. Wedeln is a simple, effective, graceful way to ski. Skis are turned with the feet, and it is high time theorists stopped insisting that they are turned with the shoulders or some other remote part of the body. – Fred Springer-Miller, SKI Magazine, December 1956. 

1957: DQ REPLACES SLALOM’S TIME PENALTY. The most important revision in slalom rules in 20 years has been adopted by the FIS. It abolishes the five-second penalty incurred when a racer gets only one foot through a gate, or both feet but the front part of one ski does not make it through. Instead the racer will be disqualified, as in giant slalom. The number of gates in a slalom must be limited to 75. . . and fewer in World Championships and Olympics. -- SKI Magazine (December 1956 and March 1957)

1957: BOOT TIPS. If your ski boots are wet, dry them slowly; fill with paper, straw or warm pebbles, and put them in a warm, not hot place. . . To preserve your boots, don’t use grease, which freezes; use shoe polish

1957: SKI VACATION MONEY-SAVER. Why pay for a room in a ski lodge when you can sleep in your car? The California Car Bed Company has introduced a front seat, with inner springs and foam rubber, to replace the one in your automobile. Shove it forward, fold the seatback back, and you have a double bed.  

1958: CORRECT LENGTH FOR SKIS. Recommended length of ski for a man 5’10” in height is 7 feet (215 cms.). For a woman of 5’4” ski length should be 6 feet 3 inches (190 cms.) – October 1958 SKI Magazine.

1958: CORRECT LENGTH FOR SKIS. Recommended length of ski for a man 5’10” in height is 7 feet (215 cms.). For a woman of 5’4” ski length should be 6 feet 3 inches (190 cms.) – October 1958 SKI Magazine.

1958: THE IDEA OF SLALOM. The notion that a racer could knock down slalom poles with impunity infuriated (Sir Arnold) Lunn. The pole, after all, was supposed to represent a tree. In 1958 Lunn wrote a full-blown article promoting the idea that a slalom pole should be topped with a cup into which was placed a ball. If the ball were knocked off by the racer hitting the pole, it meant disqualification. The slalom would thus return to his original idea of a test of skiing through trees – you cannot push a tree aside on your way down. – John Fry in Backcountry Magazine, 2012.

1959: SKIING WAS REALLY CHEAPER. The medium cost of a complete ski outfit – skis, boots, bindings, poles, pants parka – was $100 to $145 ($740 to $1,073 today, adjusted for inflation). A Stowe lift ticket cost $6.50 ($48.10 adjusted). -- 1959 information from SKI Magazine December issue.

1959: LEG PLASTER INSCRIPTION CHALLENGE. Writing on a cast is a tricky business when you’re not well acquainted with the owner of the broken leg. “I’d like to fall for you,” or “The next time you’re casting, give me a break,” or “Set ‘em up in the other alley,” are all acceptable. Try to avoid sentimentality, and don’t put anything in writing that you’ll be sorry for later. If you like the person, you could put a return address on the shin. -- Art Buchwald, NY Herald Tribune, February 26, 1959.

1960: GET FIT TO WEAR STRETCH PANTS. Fitness guru Bonnie Prudden tells skiers how to shape up to look good in stretch pants. Your body can be judged by how well, or not so well, you fit last season’s pants. If abdominals and seat muscles have softened, the rear view in the mirror will show it. – Skiing News Magazine, January 1960.

1963: SING AS YOU SKI. If you want to know what skiing will do for your skiing, sing something rhythmic. The beat of your song should come at the moment of maximum edging. For a slow wedel, try the beat of Tea for Two. For a faster wedel, try Swedish Rhapsody. For mambo, try Never on Sunday. If that makes you go too fast, switch to My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. -- Ski Pointer by Jack Irwin, March 1963, SKI Magazine.

1963: SING AS YOU SKI. If you want to know what skiing will do for your skiing, sing something rhythmic. The beat of your song should come at the moment of maximum edging. For a slow wedel, try the beat of Tea for Two. For a faster wedel, try Swedish Rhapsody. For mambo, try Never on Sunday. If that makes you go too fast, switch to My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. -- Ski Pointer by Jack Irwin, March 1963, SKI Magazine.

1963: WHY LEGS BREAK. The switch by racers to toe releases is causing experienced skiers to relent and give up their bear-traps. The startling increase in boot-top fractures and Achilles tendon injuries was closely related to unrelenting skier demand for high-shafted boots and longthong turntables. – SKI Magazine, October 1963. 

1964: THE TOUGH AMERICANS. In advance of the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics, the aim of Alpine Coach Bob Beattie is to take to Europe a team that is not only strong physically, but a group emotionally wedded to the idea of winning. Less than this he will not be content with. – Martin Luray, November 1963 SKI Magazine.

1969: TABLE-POUNDING BEATTIE. At the close of this ski season, Bob Beattie will cease to be director of the alpine program of the U.S. Ski Association. Thanks to Beattie, the position of U.S. competitors today is a far cry from the days when the Europeans tagged him as the Ugly American. Ugly because he pounded tables and shouted to get his boys better seedings. And didn’t relent. Beattie has been a master tactician at gaining every advantage possible for our racers. He’ll be sadly missed. – Doug Pfeiffer, Skiing Magazine, February 1969. 

1972: ABANDON WINTER GAMES. I would much rather have no Winter Games at all, than allow non-amateurs to compete. – Avery Brundage Archive, IOC Museum, Lausanne. 

1973: WHAT WOMEN DON’T LIKE ABOUT SKI SCHOOL. A University of Utah survey of women taking lessons reveals more dissatisfaction with ski school than men feel. Women complain that lessons are given in too rigid and tense an atmosphere, with too much standing around during class. – SKI Magazine, October 1973. 

1973: AMERICA’S HOTTEST APRES PLACES. Based on décor, music, people and overall ambience, SKI Magazine named “The 7 Houses of In”: Altitude 38 at Bear Valley, California; the Round House at Manchester, Vermont near Bromley; The Shed at Stowe; Hillwinds at Franconia, NH; Blue Ox Bar in the Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood; Tramway Bar at Snowbird; and Donovan’s at Vail. – February 1973, SKI Magazine.

1974: SKI GEAR NOMENCLATURE GOES FOOD-CRAZY. The success of Nordica’s Banana boot has spawned fast-food warfare in naming ski products. This season we have Lemon Drop and Mint Julep boots from Bache, Raspberry Float boots from San Marco, Cheeseburger and Juniorburger skis, and Fries poles from K2. Is there a Big Mac in the offing? —SKI Magazine, October 1974. 

1974: ANNEMARIE PROELL AT THE TOP OF HER GAME. At the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships in St. Moritz next week there is but one true monarch in sight— Queen Annemarie of Austria. This fierce and arrogant mountain queen rules supreme. She still lights up a defiant cigarette at the finish line after most races, still treats her competition with a disdain suitable for stray dogs, still plays the imperious and outrageous prima donna for befuddled officials of the Austrian team—as last fall when she threatened to quit and race for San Marino in 1974 unless she was allowed to change her brand of skis. Yes, the aggressive, intolerant, petulant, magnificent Annemarie Proell is still with us to dominate World Cup skiing as no one has since Jean-Claude Killy departed six long years ago. And she is only 20. -- William Oscar Johnson, Sports Illustrated, January 28, 1974. 

1978: OUT OF BOUNDS? GO TO JAIL. Don’t go blithely whipping off the trails at Vail this season. Under a new get-tough policy, the U.S. Forest Service is planning to prosecute people who ignore ski area boundary and trail-closing markers. The penalties: six months in jail and a $500 fine. – October 1978 SKI Magazine. 

1978: SKI TO TRAIN FOR SPACE TRAVEL. Skiing is one of the training methods now used by Russian cosmonauts. Many of the skills required in skiing are also needed in space flight. Skiing develops good depth perception and the ability to pick out detail while moving quickly. . .and to react quickly at high speed. Skiing helps cosmonauts to analyze and overcome fear. And weightlessness in space is similar to unweighting in sking – being suspended from gravity while maintaining balance. – George Kanzler, quoted in Ski Life, October 1978 SKI Magazine.

1986: DRAMATIC DROP IN SKI AREAS. A few years back, our White Book listed well over 800 ski areas in the USA. Today’s total is less than 550. – Robert G. Enzel, Publisher & Editor, The White Book of Ski Areas, 1986. 

1988: LIFT TICKET PRICES. A one-day pass for Aspen Mountain this winter is $35, up 20 percent from a year ago. Other lift ticket prices: Vail and Killington -- $32. Alta -- $16. Boyne -- $25. – Premier issue of the new magazine Snow Country, March 1988.

1988: NEW DIRECTIONS FOR THE SPORT. Skiing has been saddled with a legacy of litigation. Quit arresting young skiers who do inverted aerials. A new set of tricks has evolved because of snowboarding. Go to the terrain park and the halfpipe, and watch the new directions of our sport. – Michael Jaquet, November 1988, Ski Area Management. 

1989: REDFORD’S ADVICE SPURNED? Actor/director Robert Redford’s views on curbing development in the mountains have not won him a host of friends among his fellow ski areas operators. (He owns Utah’s Sundance resort.) Ill-conceived development and urban amenities that diminish the simple beauty of the mountains, says Redford, ultimately rob us of the reason that first brought us there. A friend is a person who criticizes openly and honestly. By any measure, Bob Redford is a friend of skiing. – John Fry, Snow Country, October 1989.

1993: FIRST MILLION-DOLLAR RACER. The 1993 season belongs to Austrian Bernhard Knauss, who captures his third straight U.S. Pro Ski Tour title, becoming the first pro skier to eclipse the million-dollar mark in career earnings. – Don Metivier, 1993-94 U.S. Pro Ski Tour Media Guide. 

1996: DRAMATIC RISE IN CONDOS. From 1966 to 1986, construction of hundreds of thousands of condos, complete with tissue-thin walls, shag carpeting and electric heat, forever changed the skiing landscape. The growth cooled in the decade after 1986. “I could predict condominium growth,” recalls Summit County, Colorado, statistician Jerry Vest, “just by looking at skier visits. The two were directly linked.” Between 1976 and 1986 Summit County condo construction and skier-visits each more than doubled. – Paul Hochman, SKI Magazine, December 1996.